The art world and the toy world collide this month at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles for the Under the Influence: Masters of the Universe Tribute Art Show. Dozens of He-Man-inspired works are on display by today’s best and brightest artists, but one piece spoke to me like no other. I give you “Cosmo Skeletor” by Johnny Sampson.
Isn’t he awesome? Sadly, the original was sold before I made it into the show. (Just as well. The $750 price tag was too rich for my blood anyway.) So, I settled for the limited edition screen print. And settling has never felt so good. This gorgeous study of blue beefcake is, of course, a clever parody of the famous Burt Reynolds centerfold in Cosmopolitan magazine. Only, instead of a hairy 70s superstar, we have a bone-faced 80s supervillain. I don’t know if I pity Battlecat‘s demise, or envy him as the luckiest kitty rug in the universe.
The Evil Lord of Destruction‘s skeleton grin may hint at bemusement, and his suggestive position may convey an expectant invitation to the viewer, but those black, hollow eyes still promise nothing but menace and doom. I don’t purport to be an expert on art; I subscribe to the “I know what I like” school of thought. However, I particularly appreciate the sentiment of this piece and the satirical blurring of lines between children’s toy, hyper-masculine archetype and sex object.
I’m really looking forward to having my skelestud print framed, so I can find the perfect place to display him to frighten and confuse unsuspecting friends and family. I’m really hoping Mr. Sampson does a He-Man companion piece to “Cosmo Skeletor.” The duo would look great above my fireplace.